From the Word to Life: A Dialogue between Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous

*
[You have agreed to participate in an oral interview: Hélène Cixous has written about the danger of the “spoken word” with regards to “thinking.” The voice also plays a role here: it has an important place in both of your texts.] Jacques Derrida: Those who do not read me reproach me at times for playing writing against the voice, as if to reduce it to silence. In truth, I proposed a reelaboration and a generalization of the concept of writing, of text or of trace. Orality is also the inscription [frayage] of a trace. But the serious treatment of these problems requires time, patience, retreat, writing in the narrow sense. I have difficulty improvising about the questions which count the most for me. Our three voices are setting out on a formidable and singular exercise here: to give each other the floor [la parole], to let each other speak in order to trace out an unpredictable path. Our words should form more than one angle, they should triangulate, play at interrupting each other even while they are articulated together. Yes, for Hélène and for me, despite an abyssal difference, writing models itself on voice. Interior or not, the voice always stages itself, or is always staged. I write “out loud [à voix haute]” or “in a low voice [à voix basse].” For my seminar as well as for texts which are not meant to be pronounced. For more than forty years I have written what I teach from the first word to the last; I try out in advance the rhythm and the tonality of what, pretending to improvise, I will “vocalize” in the lecture theater. I never write in silence, I listen to myself, or I listen to the dictation of another voice, of more than one voice: staging, therefore, dance, scenography of terms, of breath and of “changes in tone.” The preparation of a seminar is like a path of freedom [chemin de la liberté]: I can let myself speak, take all the time which is given to me in writing. For publication, as it involves texts of very different genres, each time the register of the voice changes. Hélène Cixous: We both have several writing practices. One that uses what is called the speaking voice [la voix qu’on dit haute], but which for
* Aliette Armel interview with Jacques Derrida and Hélène Cixous, “Du mot à la vie: un dialogue entre Jacques Derrida et Hélène Cixous,” Magazine littéraire (2004): 22–29 © Magazine littéraire 2004.
New Literary History, 2005, 37: 1–13

I have this need to let myself be haunted by voices coming from my elsewheres that resonate through me. even rap [déraper même rapper] along with your supremely precise and improvisational thought. your voice is a pre-voice. As a result I am at the mercy of their inspiration [insufflement]. Where does it come to me from? Beautiful ancient voices lead me. I don’t write my seminars. sediments of voice?] . that which comes to me from more than one other (masculine or feminine). who give me their word [me donnent leur parole]. that something loses steam [s’essouffle]. to confirm. I submit to the oracles. La parole soufflé. I want to have voices. For days I travel through a region of multiple texts by ramifications crossings grafts until I can think them through by heart. in 1963. which is on the order of teaching. whereas in a single voice it makes a chorus of voices be heard. waltz. intertwine. I master nothing. turn. another that silently gets deeper and deeper with the degrees of writing. and a word stolen. whisked away. going with or against the other. I saw myself clearly in your incredible text on Artaud. Who speak (to) me. They weave together. coryphaeus. They can fail me. First Encounter [This dialogue between the two of you has lasted for forty years. Other unconsciouses also intervene. for whom I speak and who let me speak [me donnent la parole]. you write a text in order to respeak it. You double yourself—in all ways. You are the actor performing what you write as an author. and tone: so many others. When you write your seminars you foresee [pré-voix]. This respeaking is a theatricalization of what is already a staging. Always more than one voice that I let resonate with differences in pitch. I have rather the feeling of song. choir. men or women. It can happen that I run out of breath [souffle]. Did your first meeting at the brasserie Le Balzar. timbre. you make the text dance. leave traces.2 new literary history me is meager and unequivocal. Choreographilosopher. in this bivalence of the soufflé: a word whispered/given by someone else. You double the theatrical stakes. In countersigning. Then I improvise for four or five hours with two pages of notes serving as a seedbed.1 We both let the word take its flight:2 this release of the word like the release of a bird or a breath: let go something that will have made a crossing. go out of control. or the silhouettes of known or unknown addressees. who speak in me. which seems to be without voice. As if I ventured to take responsibility for a sort of choir to which I should nonetheless render justice. those of my ancestors? Jacques Derrida: The parole soufflée is also the dictation of more than one voice (masculine and feminine). replace each other. of music. This risk is the condition of my creative energy and of my discoveries. A flight of texts.

There was her first card after reading Force et signification. yes. He was speaking of that which has eternally interested me: the question of death. he makes his own self-portrait. this man. so powerfully alive. The person that he is. in which I knew my thought could wander. The being. he ransoms it. It was for me the opening of thought and literature. . It arrived like a meteor in my garden. stays back and looks at you. plays out its idiomatic potential. When I heard him I found the liberty I needed: of course this liberty existed in Rimbaud.dialogue between derrida and cixous 3 Jacques Derrida: It would be difficult for me to evoke here. I “saw” only his back.3 I was way in the back of the lecture theater. In describing in Spectres of Marx the visor effect. which has an appearance and is part of my life. All you have is the letter. unmakes it. we spoke for a long time and about Joyce. my feelings were slightly different. but with Jacques Derrida poetry began to gallop philosophy. a natural visor. the concrete and living traces of my encounter with Hélène. what I have seen is his language. I remember the first manuscript Hélène confided in me (Le prénom de Dieu). Unheimlich. I wrote this in Quelle heure est-il?:4 I saw not his person but his being walking on the crest of a mountain. om). Thereafter. thinking the question of death. the “readership” of the time was not ready. From the beginning. he was taking his agrégation. What was inscribed in what came to be a sort of legend for me—that is. scours it. But I am not sure that the effect of these experiences survives intact. he looks without being seen. with this double feeling: dazzlement and anxiety. This Derridianized French language. each coming from our own edge trying to think “the thing. is the incarnation of his thought in his language. something legible—is that I nonsaw him: I only heard him. I was seized by nothing other than his absolutely other language. “Derridian. It was an extraordinary accident. it seemed to me (was I mistaken?).” My way of nonseeing was visionary: one nonsees what one has to see otherwise. It was at the Sorbonne. Everything was put in place for me when I nonsaw him the first of the first times. I have never stopped reading him meticulously and each time it is as if I was seeing what he thinks. awakens the words buried under forgetfulness. Hélène Cixous: Around the same scenes. At our first encounter. We progressed step by step around a limit-work. each time it was the same: I nonsaw him. at the Balzar. He resuscitates it. Years later I wrote him after having read his first texts. It was a sort of prophetic phantasm where he was the prophet. the first face-to-face at the Balzar. So I feared for her in the course of the reading. I saw only his voice. The cultural or socioeditorial field.” He is the speech of this language. in improvising. we were at the limit. to receive and to measure what was beginning there. I was eighteen years old. He has a helmet [heaume] (what word of words: home homme heaume.

Before taking a certain number of liberties with writing. to the meaning and unconscious body of what I write.”] Jacques Derrida: In the beginning (it was however just after the “Algerian War”). the most secret. which are not only Sephardic but also. Before this. Circumfession. And this foreignness also presided over our first encounter: he perceived me as foreign. from Algeria. even to his world. We are each foreign otherwise. to the forge and to the form. that of writing itself. also coming from my other languages. Though this didn’t escape everyone. for this part of me which he calls Ashkenazi and which for me is German. Inflexible. And reads many other languages. Jews. We don’t have the same training. Ashkenazi. in an increasingly acute manner. Beyond all that we share in this sense. and quasi-clandestine manner. but my attachment to French is absolute. etc. I began to write on “my” Algeria. My strange and stormy passion for the French language freed itself bit by bit. I am a “philosopher. by her mother. I remain obstinately monolingual.. Jews. For me. What brings together our dissimilarities is a thematized experience of the inside of the outside. Later. You are both “Writers. My imagination was marked by the first . etc. with The Postcard. to speak to it intimately [à la tutoyer]. I betrayed the norms only in a prudent. we became aware of this. on my childhood. Judaism. I can teach in English. Whereas through her origins. without any natural access to another language. I read German. our shared origins were not very present in our exchanges.4 new literary history Jacques Derrida: From a certain point of view. Writers. if I may put it that way. it was necessary that I first be accorded a certain amount of credit. Hélène Cixous: When we met. Hélène has a native relationship to German. we were each in our own way busy trying to approach the shimmering heart of the French language. Hélène reads me in an incomparable manner.” I began by trying to have my philosophical work be legitimized by the academic institution. Monolingualism of the Other. Jacques Derrida explains that this language that unites you was forged in shared origins. Although my taste for literature came first. from Algeria [In Monolingualism of the Other. it is only too obvious that we write texts as dissimilar as could be. cunning. My gratitude for this is boundless. She immediately finds the best access. Our altercations with the French language are also different.

for life. but it represents a sort of paradise lost. We share what I have called nosblessures. of survival. I did not understand it until the other children spit the message of rejection on me. The Voice and the Phenomenon through secret cracks. an outside in the inside and this goes on infinitely. I did not know that he had in the beginning been concerned with legitimizing his presence in philosophy. I was three years old when I watched my father unscrew his doctor’s signboard. The secret alien that he is inscribed something else in his texts. imposing its letters and its syntax at a crossroads of sentences and “logics. in 1939: I had the right to enter this place of admission and exclusion that in Oran was called the Cercle Militaire. I was excluded because of my Jewish origins. I had the Experience: one can be inside without being inside. the word essai (trial. In any case. I was two-and-a-half years old and suddenly my father was a lieutenant-doctor.” are you alluding to the garden of the Cercle militaire?] Jacques Derrida: “We are from the same garden” could open onto all the world’s gardens. Through literature he gave me access to philosophy. as in all of Jacques Derrida’s thought. One of these books was placed under the epigraph of Edgar Allen Poe. benefiting from explosions that were illuminations and destinies for me. But the literal reference is first the Jardin d’Essai. of the scar. in Rootprints.C. was originarily inscribed in the life-book of both of us. I had the impression of slipping into The Origin of Geometry. without it bothering me or becoming a home. “ournoblewounds”: wounds [blessures]. In this place which had appeared to me like paradise. with tropical trees. in Algiers. of the present of presence.” . Jacques Derrida slipped Joyce into the middle of Husserl. [When Hélène Cixous writes. This Garden still exists. I have never stopped living the exclusion. And everything is inextricable.dialogue between derrida and cixous 5 experience of my childhood. next to a soccer stadium where I often played. The question of the presence of the present. “We are from the same garden. The passage between the inside and the outside is found in everything I write. We have never been there together. there is an inside in the inside. I enter into this garden: and I was not inside. essay) overwrites itself. through literature. And even of the henceforth. because the work of stigmatization. but ours [nos] and they become our title to nobility [noblesse]. We had experienced expulsion by Vichy. In H. We have been able to understand each other to the tenth of a word. I slipped through underground passages. In the other. hell gaped: I was not able to enter into that into which I had been admitted. was already at work. the event he would say. showing me its arrow slits and draw-bridges. a botanical park. attempt.

Miracle: I was not thinking of this a second before. During a recent interview the expression jurer avec came to me by surprise: it meant exactly what I was looking for: “to clash with. “it is. Fichus! Who would have thought? And Demeure! Béliers! I envy his titles. to speak under oath with . . For example. Untranslatability is always what guides me: that the sentence is eternally indebted to idiom. mission accomplished in the service of the language—and a certain irresponsibility. It is a book of c’est.” It’s extraordinary—a garden called d’Essai. It is all mine. Hence this overloaded feeling: jubilation. the words start playing more and more. As if I think nothing before writing: surprised by some resource of the French language that I did not invent. I then exploited the resources of this untranslatable expression.] Hélène Cixous: One could make a poem with nothing but the titles of his books.” but at the same time “to countersign. While Writing and Difference was grammatically proper. In an apparent paradox. at times. Jurer avec cannot be translated into another language while preserving the multiplicity and the contradiction that a certain use of the expression can have. Jacques Derrida: Yes. but it comes to me from the language—which does without me in passing through me. takes off from a word play. The body of the word should be inseparable from the meaning to such an extent that translation can only lose it. The Latin Esse: to be. There is the Word [For both of you. once I retained H. Both the nomination and the term. . and a certain number of texts are engendered by a brilliant word in the French language brilliantly replayed in Derridian. His hypersensibility to what French words conceal both follitterally and philosophonically.” And then “to swear with” this conspiracy [conjuration] itself. as time goes on. I organized my text in such a way as to philosophically exploit the resources of the idiom on different registers: the minute analysis of texts .C. causing zeugmas. pour la vie as the most just title. translators have been much more interested in my texts than the French themselves. writing draws on words. I make of it something that was not programmed but already rendered possible by the lexical and syntactic treasure trove. in the beginning there is the word. an expression that nourishes the progression of thought and even.6 new literary history Hélène Cixous: French literature begins with the Essais. In the Beginning.” “to swear with. in trying to reinvent in their language the experience I have just described. the progression of the narrative.

that. etc. In en jeune saint juif.” The “I” has a fictive status there. history. Dis/quietedly. It is very late. I am not “against life. “as a young monkey.5 C’est pour la vie means at once faithful and unfailing friendship. both of you write books that are marked by autobiography. For me it is very different! In my first books. The Monolingualism of the Other. or a strangely familiar. But otherwise. fantasmatic.. even familial. in a more or less fictive style. This discord is at the heart of the book— and of life. of course. We are two French writers who cultivate a strange relationship.” I would have liked for the monkey to have survived. To the contrary. therefore by life itself: words bring back to life. with regard to the relationship between the “word” and “life. . From the Word to Life [The process that you describe beginning with the word can appear very abstract. by Freud. etc. a taking sides with life which I have never been able to share. It is the contingent chance of her name and initials: Hélène Cixous.” but neither am I “for life” like her.” “for life. but they remain untranslatable. They are autobiographical—if they are at all—in another manner. “forever. As for titles. but which is different from that which it had in my first texts where I said “I” or “we” in the abstract fashion of the philosopher or classical theoretician. “as a young saint. Our trajectories are thus very different. certainly. Jacques Derrida: Hélène’s texts are translated across the world.dialogue between derrida and cixous 7 by Hélène.” but also the pour la vie which is for her an affirmation. but also enriched by her singular. Hélène’s books have been fictional and fantastical. but that didn’t work. Hélène Cixous: You are against death and fiercely for life. I had to do my mourning in the translation of Portrait de Jacques Derrida en jeune saint juif.] Jacques Derrida: Since Le prénom de Dieu. We are more rooted in the French language than those with ancestral roots in this culture and this land. with Circumfession. I made references to what is called “my life. there are no biographical hints or signals.” can be heard en jeune singe.” and to the life of the word. of an affirmative thought of life. uncanny) relationship with the French language—at once more translated and more untranslatable than many a French author. familiarly strange (unheimlich.

It has to do. In addition it is my invention. He writes the autobiography of his body as a stigmatized body. . Hélène Cixous: I don’t deny that the family is there. Jacques Derrida: But ever since your first books.” Jacques Derrida: I would hope so. always already. a body of blood and of signs. your psyche. I write from this tension between what is hidden and what comes about. but if it were true. the “true” father! And the brother. As for you. And it is the primitive structure of every human being. They submit me to translation. with all his physical and psychic circumcisions and scarifications. as my mother says. it has a power superior to that of the person who believes she is writing the book.8 new literary history Hélène Cixous: Nonetheless. it will have been so above all after the fact. All your books constitute an autobiography of an unknown genre written “interiorly and on the skin. your philosophy is a transparent veil. it is a mythical construction from which I reflect on the destinies of all human beings. that philosophy can only be brought into this world by a being in flesh in blood in sex in sweat. Later there is the mother. your body in passion. I find myself relatively absent from my texts considered to be autobiographical. The book comes to me. even if it gives birth to an immense familial mythology: the dead father is always there. [Is what Hélène Cixous describes as the presence of the body in Jacques Derrida’s texts an element of this autobiography of an unknown genre?] Hélène Cixous: In all of his texts a naiveté is manifest. but my family is not all me. with your soul. He cannot lie. the book. The essential part of what I have been is completely secret. He had the extraordinary audacity to show that the philosopher writes with all his body. and unprecedented. in sperm and in tears. even if everything I have written is thought through from experiences I have had. My books are stronger than I am. your philosophical problematics are sorts of self-portraits. that is. retrospectively. the so-called “autobiographical” vein irrigates an underground stratum that is absolute. It is that which causes Greek tragedy. your dislocations. It is unique. they escape me. The being behind your letters is you otherwise and more naked than Rousseau. This stranjewish body which fears trembles climaxes and triumphs reveals what it hides. something native.

you set off again. and always submits it to questions of history (there is a history of “values of truth”). Even when I lie (which I have to do sometimes. I always head towards the most frightening. you do not sit the truth on your knees. where the only possibility of the thing is the experience of impossibility. when something appears to me to be “true” (but I am now giving this word an altogether different meaning that I cannot explain here). From the place where you arrive. I write towards what I flee. In reading you we learn that the truth is always a bit further on. perhaps a bit less). But it is the only hospitality possible and worthy of the name. expelling garden. it is an irresistible impulse. hospitality. This is what makes writing thrilling but painful. who thinks twice about it at least. Hélène Cixous: This procedure [démarche] of truth is for me the gift you give to humanity. Therefore the possibility depends on the impossible.dialogue between derrida and cixous 9 The Values of Truth Jacques Derrida: You see what Hélène’s friendship gives me: she is undoubtedly the only person who thinks I never lie. you take yourself back up. one does not pardon. what is within one’s power. And when it passes through me. it is no longer of interest. in exchange for repentance or a request for pardon. Between Possible and Impossible Jacques Derrida: We come again to the theme of the impossible. If one pardons what is pardonable. I am conscious of the risk I take but I can’t keep myself from doing it: when something should be said. If one does only what one can do. I am taken to be someone who questions the value of truth. This goes also for the gift. it is said. Truth makes you tick [La vérité te fait marcher] in all the senses of the word. I could give any number of concepts obeying the same logic. like everyone. It’s not about courage or defiance. I remain (according to her) innocent. If I have to interrogate in a critical manner the work of a respected author. However. wrongly of course. Pardoning is possible only when one pardons what is impossible to pardon. I dream about it. It is always a jardin d’Essai. but it is an infernal. you relaunch yourself. no torture could keep me from saying so. so much so that my enemies consider me. to be a skeptic or nihilist. What I can write is already written. one only . no dam can contain it. no power in the world.6 It’s also the law of writing: one can only write in the direction of that which does not let itself be written and which one must try to write. Pardoning is only possible for the impardonable. Unconditional hospitality is impossible.

This is true of experience in general. You take on something of which you cannot measure the development. . Hospitality of visitation and not invitation. You cannot do otherwise. This is also a political reflection: only what the available schemas fail to foresee happens.7 but of the other in me before me. I can not say that I open the doors. and totally blind. That is unconditional hospitality (foreign to politics and law. Of the other as me. of the pardon. An event is possible only as impossible. infinite acceptation. Therefore it does not happen. To decide.and possible.” I often write “impossible” with a hyphen between im. Jacques Derrida: It is the responsibility of the other. who will always remain on the other side. it is already over. The im-possible is the condition of possibility of the event. The other has already entered. even to the ethical in the narrow sense). I can not access the alterity of the other. one must cross through the impossibility of the decision. for you. where you situate it and as you evoke it. is an absolute and blind responsibility. If I know what to decide. The other is he or she before whom I am vulnerable. this exposure to the other takes the form of acquiescence: what translates. for me. the effects. to suggest that this word is not negative in the way I use it.10 new literary history develops the possibilities which are within oneself. whom I can not even deny. that I invite the other: the other is already there. [How is power exercised with regard to the impossible?] Jacques Derrida: It is a certain powerlessness [im-puissance]. there is no more responsibility to take. exposure to what is irreducibly other. To do something it is necessary to do more than what one can do. Between the conditional and the unconditional in general. on the horizon. Hélène Cixous: Responsibility. Hélène Cixous: It is an absolute yes to the other. in terms of powerlessness. is. of hospitality. Hélène Cixous: For me. beyond “I can [je peux]. For something or someone to arrive. This is what we have to deal with. there is at once radical heterogeneity and indissociability. it must be absolutely unanticipateable. Exposure to the other can only take the form of powerlessness. of the gift. When something is foreseen. of writing. the destiny. one follows a program. nor can I deny his or her alterity. even if he is not invited. a power that accepts submission. as heterogeneous or as someone else.

to a certain degree. this gift [don] which makes me who I am.C. how then can the secret be protected?] Hélène Cixous: There are many secrets. I try to think otherwise what the philosophical tradition. which I transform and put into play: I tried to elaborate a logic of the efficacy of such a puisse. from Aristotle to Hegel. Puisse cela arriver: “May that happen”—and that happens in the text. which is thus neither an imperative nor an indicative. this strange subjunctive. The word secret is full of secrets. One writes like a rescue effort to oneself in the dark: an act of despair because we know there is . This looks like a sort of verbal facility or playful paradox. The unknown of this secret is buried in night and silence: we will never know the face it would have if it could appear. impossible to reveal because the revelation would bring about the destruction of the secret thing. except maybe in the form of dreams. For there to be performative language. bequeathed us with regard to the possible. this verb used by Hélène in a sentence you analyze at length in H. the irruptivity of the event.dialogue between derrida and cixous 11 Jacques Derrida: It’s not a powerlessness of simple resignation. of weakness. The puisse at work in Hélène’s texts. but rather an abandonment. The thing AboutwhichIknownothing [Dontjenesaisrien] remains secret. one must anticipate. agree upon the codes and conventions. master the conditions. in its puissance. [How is the puisse. is situated on this tangential line which I follow between the possible and the impossible. The pure event defies performativity. There is a secret that is something known and hidden. more and other than performative. its power. conjugated with the impossible?] Jacques Derrida: Puisse is one of these precious possibilities of the French language which are given to me. bringing something about through the simple utterance of the vow. Hélène Cixous: You arrive (to yourself) where you were not expecting (yourself). it is for me the most serious issue in the world. There is the secret about which I know nothing. It is necessary to think otherwise the possibility of the impossible. for life. and also of life. A subjunctive operates here. so secret and secreted away that I have no trace of it. which neutralizes. The singularity of this puisse is. The Right to the Secret [The theme of the secret occupies both of you: if one must let texts come.

He would give his life to discover it. the depository of a very grave secret to which I do not myself have access. When a State does not respect the right to the secret. barely playing. it becomes threatening: police violence. its mission surpasses it. at times to the extent of not knowing what it consisted in. As soon as one writes to exhume one secretes secrets. This right—to say everything without avowing anything—weaves a link of principle between literature and democracy. Literature owes its life to the secret. like a marrano. it’s published. But if literature is only an immense weave of symptoms. as is the case in all so-called autobiographical texts. A truth is deformed and transformed. this symptomatology overpowers them. inquisition. to avow without avowing.12 new literary history a treasure to which we will never have access. literature opens this privileged place where one can say everything and avow everything without the secret having been betrayed: due to the fictional status of the literary work. It’s there. From Freud to Lacan. Now. even if I reveal to you the truth of my secret. someone exploits literature which would not be this thing in itself.” Hélène Cixous: In front of the book there is a door. we think we enter. The inspired reader opens it. I have often presented myself. I can always claim. consciously or unconsciously. without being refuted. what singular symptomatology! It fascinates psychoanalysts. How ignorant we are about ourselves! And yet we sign. I take the right to the secret to be an ethical and political right. invented. The book is a letter on the run [lettre de fuite]. We can never prove—what is called proving—that someone lied. This theme has also interested me from a political point of view. it is stronger than them. Jacques Derrida: This is an inexhaustible theme. deformed. that “it is not I who speaks in my name. in Spain and Portugal. I am the inheritor. But the text works to dissimulate the thing in its folds and the author can do nothing about it. Literature is tragic. . Sometimes in order to access an even more powerful. who cultivated their Judaism in secret. The word or the writing that I send into the world transports a secret that remains inaccessible to me but that leaves its traces in all my texts. but nobody can trust it. but a strategic function. more “true” truth. in what I do or live. One can certainly object that.” This poses again the question of the “proper name. because it is fiction: I may have lied. by right. a ruse to be able to deny. totalitarianism. panicked by the necessity of pursuing the secret but in vain.” Who speaks? Literature has this political right to say everything. one of those Jews converted by force. Freud avowed: “It is the poets who teach me. there is no end. In the end the book escapes.

la responsabilité de l’autre. However close I am to the other. if I may say so. the forgotten word) or to take or steal the word. Jacques Derrida: In Un ver à soie. Translated by Ashley Thompson NOTES 1 Souffler means to breathe.— Trans. 1994). C. therefore Latin: secernere is to separate. and not Jewish women.” In French this latter sense is reinforced by the common expression être responsable de. to make walk. 3 The agrégation is the highest level French national academic exam.—Trans.—Trans. even in fusioning “communion” or erotic ecstasy. with Hélène’s text (Savoir). it is in a state of continual secretion. it is for life. the secret is told from other roots and according to other semantics in Greek or German. The other is separated.” such that the book title. for life could also be rendered H. ou La porte (celle qu’on ne passe pas).dialogue between derrida and cixous 13 Jacques Derrida: The secret is tied to what we said of the truth—and of the im-possible. it constantly augments itself: never can an author reach its heights. Judaism. . but also to steal. We speak French.” “it is. in Le passage des frontières : Autour du travail de Jacques Derrida (Paris : Galilée.” (read at a conference on Derrida at Cerisy-la-Salle in 1992). It makes possible [donne sa chance à] the encounter. which is traditionally open to the public.” childhood. my “history of truth. face to face [en regard]. published under the translation H. must wear). It is existence itself. plays on the double genitive to signify both “the other’s responsibility” and “the responsibility for the other. the event. which means both “flight” and “theft. including when one whispers a secret. the figures of the secret and of secretion command a trajectory wholly “autobiographical”: the journal of a trip to South America. the tallith (the shawl that Jewish men. But we must not forget. 6 Faire marcher means to make tick. Cixous is referring to the oral part. 7 This expression. which I had just read.—Trans. This interruption is not negative. 83–98. which I published in Veils.”—Trans. to whisper. religion. but also to pull (one’s) leg. Hélène Cixous: We could add secretion: the secret is not a diamond.—Trans. 2 Cixous is working here on the bivalence of the word vol. the secret is not revealed. This is just a recent example of all the sharing and separating [partages] that we can only evoke here. love itself. meaning “to be responsible for. such that the expression la parole soufflée can mean either to whisper or to tell (someone) the word (the secret word. 5 The letter “C” in French is a homophone of “c’est. It is not only that which one hides. 4 “Quelle heure est-il. to give orders.”—Trans.

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